10 tasty-looking films playing at NZIFF 2022

Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival has announced its 2022 programme as it prepares to return to cinemas. Steve Newall and Liam Maguren highlight some of their picks.

Film fest fans rejoice (and start planning those wishlists) – we’re just a few weeks away from this year’s Whānau Mārama: New Zealand International Film Festival.

Dive into the full programme at the official NZIFF website, watch the official NZIFF 2022 trailer (cut together by Thomas Burton for Flicks), and read on for ten big screen experiences we are hanging out for.

The Blue Caftan

Filmmaker Maryam Touzani delivered a compelling, softly observed little gem with Adam, which played at NZIFF 2019. Touzani displayed a tender but firm grasp on her characters and their camaraderie, which is why I’m eager for her follow-up—an atypical love triangle drama about a happily married couple, the secret they keep (his homosexuality), and a young apprentice who might unintentionally topple their house of cards. LIAM MAGUREN

Decision to Leave

Back at NZIFF for the first time since his superb The Handmaiden in 2016, director Park Chan-wook may have made many films with adult content, but this may be his most actually “grown up” yet. The noir-ish mystery romance follows a detective investigating a widow’s possible involvement in her late husband’s death—yes, before you know it, this moves beyond the ethical guidelines of his profession… STEVE NEWALL

Family Dinner

I haven’t read much into this film. Hell, I haven’t even seen the trailer on Flicks. What I do know is that, every so often, there’s a film in the Incredibly Strange section with a harmless-sounding title (e.g. The Invitation, Goodnight Mommy) that ends up being one of the most messed-up and memorable films of that year. Given Incredibly Strange founder Ant Timpson executively produced this one too tells me all I need to know. I cannot wait to have this thing jump out at me from the bushes. LIAM MAGUREN

Flux Gourmet

Another returning Flicks fave, Peter Strickland topped our list of the best films of NZIFF 2019 with surreal cursed dress horror In Fabric. This black comedy promises to be no less bizarre, centred around experimental performance artists performing “sonic catering”. Asa Butterfield and Gwendoline Christie star, amid some alluring tableaux like we see above . STEVE NEWALL


Boarding a similar waka as NZIFF 2017 standout Waru and its worthy follow-up Vai, this Aotearoa anthology sees eight Pan-Asian female filmmakers tell stories about the immigrant experience in New Zealand. I love this format as both a platform for underrepresented filmmakers and as a unique narrative device. Where Waru revolved around an event and Vai on a single character, this feature brings its varied Asian stories under the same roof—a setup that seems perfect for characters making a house (and a country) their home. LIAM MAGUREN

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On

A24 may have made some great childish films (see: Swiss Army Man) and some great films about childhood (see: Minari) but this is the first one they’ve made that you can actually take children to. Sporting a trailer that’s adorable beyond words, this partially animated mockumentary follows a talking mollusk with a sweet pair of kicks as he attempts to find his missing family. If you find my lifeless corpse on the seat after a screening of this, assume I awwwwww-ed myself to death. LIAM MAGUREN


Getting NZIFF off to a roaring start on Opening Night is this new Aotearoa drama inspired by 2007’s Tūhoe raids—which saw NZ police flexing new anti-terrorism powers in response to alleged military-style training camps in Te Urewera. Director Tearepa Kahi, who’s previously delivered strong NZIFF experiences with Poi E: The Story of Our Song and Herbs: Songs of Freedom, has assembled a superb cast including Cliff Curtis, Simone Kessell, Manu Bennett and Jay Ryan—with Tūhoe activist Tame Iti adding the film extra verisimilitude playing himself. STEVE NEWALL

Neptune Frost

Look, I don’t know how to describe this one to you, and I’d like to believe the film would be proud of that. It’s considered an “Afrofuturist sci-fi punk musical” and judging by the trailer, it goes one hundy on that, but it looks to go far beyond this description. All I know is, I’m letting the big screen take me away to whatever frosty planet this film’s promising me. LIAM MAGUREN

New Zealand’s Best

This short film competition always lives up to its title and 2022 looks to be no different, with five shorts selected by Aotearoa great Florian Habicht. The finalists are Saviour (dir: Alistair MacDonald), Manny and Quinn (dir: Siobhan Marshall), Perianayaki (dir: Bala Murali Shingade), Rustling (dir: Tom Furniss), and Trees (dir: Tom Scott). They will be competing for a total prize pool of $15,000, with a jury of three (including Flicks) awarding three prizes at the premiere screening of New Zealand’s Best on Saturday 6 July. As importantly—maybe more so—they’ll be a great watch. STEVE NEWALL

The Territory

Brazil and the Amazon continue to make headlines for all the wrong reasons, most recently with  Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro’s demolition of Brazil’s Indigenous and environmental protection services and “surrender of the Amazon to crooks” being blamed for two brutal murders. With farmland increasingly encroaching on the Amazon rainforest and threatening its Indigenous people, this doco chronicles the Uru-eu-wau-wau people—who only made first contact with the outside world in 1981—and their struggles against incursions under Bolsonaro’s rule. STEVE NEWALL